Forty three years ago my parents immigrated to America, leaving behind their parents and siblings. We grew up as four daughters and two parents. It was always just the six of us. Our aunts, uncles, cousins miles away and known only as names. A generation later my children have three aunts and uncles and eight cousins on my side of the family. Unlike siblings, cousins share a similar history but not the same roof, eliminating any rivalry or bickering. My children are the youngest three of eleven grandchildren. They are lucky to have eight big cousins who show them only patience and humor, granting every request for a piggy back ride, game of chase and to borrow their iPhone.

This 4th of July marks the end of childhood for the oldest three cousins, Summer, Justin and Simone. This fall they will start college as confident, independent adults. The foundation of family and love will help them make good choices, realize new possibilities and hopefully bring them home every holiday.